Keeping the Sabbath

Image: Synopsys

A rare weekend for me!

Late yesterday afternoon I joined a small group of folks (30-40) at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Georgetown, CO. This is where my sister and brother-in-law worship and we were happy to be with my nephew and his wife, their two children and a good friend of the family. There's only one Mass a weekend at OLLC and it's celebrated by Fr. Michael Kerrigan who has three churches in his care in the area.

Sitting in the pew with no homily in my back pocket is something I rarely do and it makes me aware of just how much the liturgical life of my parish colors my whole weekend experience when I'm at home in Concord. The experience of worship from the assembly and freedom from the presider's responsibility for leading the community in prayer - that makes for a very different experience of the Lord's Supper.

Fr. Kerrigan is a warm and inviting presider whose faith is evident in his presence, his smile and his reverence in the sanctuary. I would have taken a different approach to the homily than did he but something about the way he celebrated, the way he prayed the Eucharist spoke, in itself, with an eloquence that clearly means a lot to his small, weekly congregation.

An even stranger experience was getting up this Sunday morning at my leisure! A light breakfast and plenty of coffee, sitting with my sister watching the Sunday morning news: I can see how staying home on a Sunday morning can be very tempting!

Mid-afternoon my sister, brother-in-law and I went out for something to eat, a stop for a few groceries and then back to the house. This has truly been a day of rest with the memory of yesterday afternoon's sunset prayer casting its blessing on the Sabbath.

This all sets me to wondering, "What is our experience of the Lord's Day as a day of rest?" My ministry makes Sunday a very busy day for me but I try each week to carve out some portion of the Sabbath as the Lord intended it to be spent.

Remember the Third Commandment?

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;
in it you shall not do any work.
Exodus 20:8-10


  1. Must have felt a bit weird sitting on the opposite side of the alter... good for you ~ enjoy your day off!

  2. Really interesting to read your comments about Mass in Colorado. I attend Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, but not in CO! In our parish we have 5 masses on a weekend and currently have 2 priests....which could easily change. Hard to picture you in the pew - the other side of the coin so to speak. It sounded like a refreshing experience for you and one you seldom get to enjoy.

    You asked about our experience of celebrating the Lord's Day....we went to 9 am mass and since it wasn't my turn for RCIA dismissal I didn't attend 2 masses! We did take up a second collection for Haiti and the focus this week certainly has been on Haiti. One of our grandchildren (and her family) were coming to dinner and the 13 yr old had requested a specific meal - as long as it wasn't a rude thing to do she told her mother! Of course, we shopped earlier and bought all we needed - and then watched the starving in Haiti on TV.
    Enjoy the rest of your vist and give Ruthie a hug!

  3. I always TRY to cook a family dinner on Sunday like my mother did when I grew up. Gone are the days of the "open house", family and friends dropping in for a visit or meal. Gone are the days of looking forward to a Sunday drive with the family etc. Now it always seems like one of us has a conflict or a commitment of some sort. Sometimes I am the one with the conflict. Do you think it is appropriate to have parish meetings on a Sunday?

  4. Sabbath? What's that? Day of rest? Huh?

    I usually enjoy an afternoon nap after all the liturgical comings-and-goings, and a late lunch/early supper with my bride. That's about it. Too many of us clergy, I fear, have lost the sense of sabbath and sabbath rest that should be a part of Sunday.

    I wish we could get it back...

    Dcn. G.

  5. I think the larger problem is that in many ways our culture has lost a sense of rest altogether. We tend to fill up any time that might be time to rest with things to do - no matter what day of the week that open time might fall.

  6. After conversing with friends on this topic, we all agreed that the Mass or other church service was the focal point of our childhood Sundays. Attending church was frequently followed by a trip to the local donut shop to pick-up a dozen of this once-a-week treat. The afternoon was filled by a family dinner and/or visit to/from friends/family rounding out a typical Sunday. We all heartily agreed that at some point the launch or increase in televised sports on Sundays and, for the Catholics, the start of Saturday evening Masses changed the Sunday experience forever.


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